It was another early morning wake up to watch the boys in the Red, White, and Blue take on Team Russia in what everyone expected to be a very hard-fought hockey game. We all knew it would be fast-paced and exciting, but no one could have imagined that it would end with such a nail-biting shootout.
After a scoreless first period, Pavel Datsyuk powered a wrist shot past Jonathan Quick, putting the Russians on the board roughly midway through the second. That lead proved to be short-lived, however, when James van Riemsdyk rebounded Phil Kessel’s scoring attempt, hitting Cam Fowler’s skate along the way to tie it 1-1.
Each team scored one more goal in the third period, with a slick pass from Patrick Kane leading to a Joe Pavelski goal for Team USA, and Datsyuk’s second goal of the night for Team Russia. With just under five minutes to go in regulation, Team Russia’s Fedor Tyutin put one in the back of the net, but the refs said the goal was no good because the net was dislodged. Later, Kane nearly sealed the deal for Team USA on a breakaway with 2:30 in overtime, only to be robbed by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
By far the biggest bullet that Team USA dodged in this game came during the epic eight-round shootout. Team Russia started with Evgeni Malkin, but Quick was able to make the save. Team USA tapped T.J. Oshie as the initial shooter, and he snuck one past Bobrovsky, who later stopped the shots of both Van Riemsdyk and Pavelski. Quick managed to stop Datsyuk but wasn’t able to go 3-for-3 as Ilya Kovalchuk tied it up.
After the first three shooters, Olympic rules allow teams to use the same shooter as many times as needed. Team Russia opted to alternate between Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk. Figuring that Oshie was hot – and as Blackhawks fans may recall, he does excel in the shootout – Team USA stuck with him in a bet that would pay off handsomely. After USA and Russia traded several hits and misses, Oshie scored the game winning goal in the eighth and (mercifully) final round.
Conflicted as a Blackhawk fan and Team USA supporter may be about cheering on any player from the Blues, it’s more than worth it to put that aside for a couple of weeks this season, especially if it leads to redemption in the form of a gold medal. After all, when it comes to the Olympics, the name on the front means more than the name on the back.